25 August, 2008

The ‘C’ word. – A reflection about the Church

I love summer sunsets in London. If you’ve never seen one, you better book some time off over here. Tonight, as Frank and I were putting the World to right strolling near Pall Mall, the gardens behind the members clubs were lit with a crimson-pinkish light that reverberated on the white buildings. Beautiful.

Talking about religion is never easy. It is a touchy subject as it can ultimately define a person’s identity. Religion has the same power over people as the (often misunderstood) concepts of race, gender and sexual orientation. In fact, these were, and still are the main four causes of unjust discrimination.

We identify ourselves with groups, movements or ideologies. Identification is a very important part of our being; be it because of the need of acceptance, upbringing or whatever reason.
Anglo-Catholics, GAFCOMs, Chelsea Supporters, Sheffield Hallam’s students, Retail Workers, Lib Dems, Tories, Levites, Blear-ites, Sicilians, Gays, Bears, Civil Servants, Old money, New Money, Peel-ites, Taleban, Low-Church, Presbyterian, Roman Catholics, Deaf People, Chartered Engineers, Pharisees, Royalists, Jamaicans... I could go on forever.
The fact is, there comes a time when we do like our boxes and we feel at home in our little clubby places. When this happens rivalry begins, be it very healthy or extremely destructive.

If we had to look at the Christian spectrum of denominations, we would find hundreds of different little ‘associations’ for likeminded individuals. Anglicanism for example, tries to hold together many of these factions but everything falls apart when one of the groups tries to overpower the others.

The Bible often talks about bringing people together and getting rid of preconceptions but it seems that these notions are often cautiously overlooked. Our Churches often look more like the rundown version of Pall Mall’s Clubs. ‘By recommendation only’ kind of thing.

Jesus invites us to share with everyone along the way. Everyone!
There is no need to bash people into things or ideas. There is only a strong need for dialogue and mutual understanding.
Let’s not be afraid of what’s outside our little comfy box. As Christians we shouldn’t even identify ourselves with this or that, but just with the poor, the bereaved, the lonely and the marginalised. This should be our main ‘group’ and all the other small identifying things will healthily follow.

It takes a lot of effort and pain to hatch out of our self-protecting, man-made, ideological prisons but that’s what we all called to do. Just think about Abraham, Moses or Paul and what they went trhough.

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